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Belgium

King Philippe bikes to his wife’s university on the institution’s 50th anniversary


Photo credit: Lars Koopmans CC BY-SA 3.0

On Monday, many European countries marked the beginning of a new school year, and King Philippe of the Belgians took to his bicycle and took a tour of UCLouvain. 

Université Catholique Louvain (or UCLouvain) is a private university located in the small town of Louvain-la-Neuve, 20 kilometres south-east of Brussels. 

The town’s name means “the new”, and that is because it was almost entirely built around the university complex and the welfare of the students. That is why almost every street available for cars is underground, which makes the above-ground terrain ideal for bicycles. 

Université Catholique Louvain was celebrating the opening of its new academic year and marking the 50th anniversary of the laying of the first stone of its building. King Philippe was there to celebrate the occasion. 

His Majesty pedalled through the city as far as Pont Neuf, where he arrived at one of the institution’s buildings and met students, teachers, and staff members, all working hard to ensure that the new academic year is as profitable and safe for everyone as possible. 

Université Catholique Louvaine has very strong ties with the Belgian royals. On 2 February 1971, King Bauduin was present for the laying of the construction’s first stone. Since then, the university has been a pioneer in so many aspects, most notably for being located in Europe’s first pedestrian town. 

Like many institutions, they had to adapt to online learning in 2020, but they had an early start; since 2014, they started experimenting with online platforms to offer Small Private Course Online (the acronym SPOCs is in English). 

But their strongest tie with the Royal Family came in 2002 when the then-Duchess of Brabant (now Queen Mathilde) obtained a Master’s Degree in Psychology with honours (cum laude) after studying at UCLouvain.